empowering young people
The International Sports Alliance (ISA) invests in youth empowerment through sports. ISA supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to become agents of change. Via sports they obtain the confidence, the life skills and the knowledge to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.
why use sports?
Sport activities, if applied correctly, have proven to strengthen young people's ability to shape their own future, become active citizens and commit themselves to building up their communities. Sport activities can structurally change their behaviour by helping them to break the vicious cycle of poverty, violence and inequality that often keeps them and their families on the margin of society.

meet Esther

Esther (25) is one of our agents of change. “I used to be a sex worker, but got out of that life via sports. ISA partner A-STEP persuaded me to play a football match. I enjoyed the game and was amazed about the talks with the sports leaders about life skills, HIV/AIDS and safe sex. It made me want to become a sports leader myself; to teach sports, empower girls and help other sex workers. A few years later, this dream has become a reality.”

we strive for an impact on 3 area's

ISA supports its local partners to set up and continuously improve up-to-date, well-designed Sport for Development programmes and activities. By using and stimulating sports as a non-formal learning tool, we create an impact on the lives of young people in three areas:

Equality between men and women is a human right and a precondition for sustainable development.
We mainstream gender equality into the planning, implementation and monitoring of all our programmes and projects.

and work via 3 different programmes

ISA & you

funding organisations
and governments

Do you want to use sports to reach your social and economic development goals?

NGOs and grassroots

Are you eager to work with (and learn from) other NGOs on Sport for Development?


How can your enterprise give substance to its social responsibility through sports?


Would you like to find, use and develop knowledge of Sport for Development?

success stories
joint lobby for sports bill
Internationally, Kenya is regarded as a leading nation when it comes to the use of Sport for Development. Throughout the years, several Kenyan non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community based organizations (CBOs) have built valuable experience using sports as a tool to promote development and peace. Since 2009, these organizations have collaborated within the Kenya Sport for Development Partnership (KSDP).
Shared knowledge
KSDP involves over 20 Kenyan NGOs and CBOs and a number of international partners. All partners use sports (and games) as a means to stimulate community development in Kenya. KSDP is a movement that offers opportunities for capacity building, helps members to share, learn and tap into each other’s experiences and knowledge and enables them to network and advocate their ambitions in relevant fora. Since its inception, ISA has been an active supporter of the KSDP movement. One of the most important results that KSDP has realized with the support of ISA has been the lobby for amendments to the Kenya Sports Bill in 2010. While lobbying for the bill, KSDP used strategies such as a stakeholder analysis and mapping, mobilization of grass roots support and media campaigns.
New opportunities
Through one-on-one talks with Members of Parliament and by appearing in national TV shows, a KSDP working group managed to include several elements in the Kenya Sports Bill that harness the role of Sport for Development in the Kenyan context. By doing so, the power of Sport for Development is further recognized by the Kenyan government and opportunities have been created for (financial) support of Sport for Development organizations through public means.
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success stories
active citizens through culture and sports
In Surinam, ISA focuses on developing community sports and culture organizations through strengthening youth leadership. Youth leaders can grow into role models in the area of Sport for Development in Surinam. From this position, they can, in the long run, support and strengthen their organizations and other local initiatives.
In Surinam, young people have little opportunities to participate in sports and culture activities at community level. Existing community organizations are confronted with low organizational capacity and static, undemocratic and strongly hierarchical structures. Therefore ISA invests in youth leadership to strengthen these organizations and to create more sports and culture opportunities for young people, because sports & culture organizations are a nursery for young leaders and new ideas and transfer active citizenship by ‘being together’ and ‘acting together’. Active citizens respect human rights and diversity, participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives and care about the well-being of their communities.
Careful selection
ISA works together closely with the Dutch Embassy and Projekta, a civil society organization from Surinam that advocates good governance, democracy, gender equality and women’s rights. Projekta is the lead implementing agency of the ‘Active Citizens Through Culture and Sport’ programme, supported by ISA. As a coordinator, it has carefully selected and invited sixteen culture and sports organizations and over thirty youth leaders to participate in that programme. The strength of the programme is that the young people commit themselves to a long-term process that gives them the opportunity to work at themselves and their organizations.
Mutual learning
Training weekends have formed the basis for the execution of the programme, giving the opportunity to the youth leaders to participate in a variety of training courses. The combination of sports and culture is appreciated by youth leaders from both sides, expressing that this is an incentive for mutual learning.
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success stories
sport leaders international
The Netherlands, Kenya, Uganda & South-Sudan
Sport Leaders International brings together agents of change from Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and the Netherlands to discuss common challenges. The programme focuses on the mutual exchange of innovative knowledge and perspectives. In Sport Leaders International, the common challenge is to work towards a safe and secure neighbourhood by using sports as a tool.
Agents of change from Kenya and the Netherlands have been brought together to exchange perspectives and methods. In 2013, a group of Dutch community sports leaders and sports teachers visited Kenya to participate in a training course about sports and peace or conflict resolution. Seeds of Peace Africa (SOPA), a Kenyan organization specialized in using sports as a tool for conflict resolution, facilitated the training of the Dutch participants. Part of the training was a visit to a nomadic community in north east Kenya, where sport is used as an effective tool for conflict resolution.
Relevant tools
Returning from the Kenya trip, the Dutch participants were not only inspired, but also obliged to organize a training course in the Netherlands for their Dutch colleagues. A selection was made of the most interesting and relevant 'Kenyan' tools. The objective is to teach them as part of the curriculum of Dutch sports institutes and to use them at a community level within Dutch municipalities. During a training week early 2014, a group of sports leaders and sports teachers/ students in the Netherlands were trained in ‘sport and conflict resolution’ by Kenyan facilitators. The training course aimed at learning different tools for community mapping and conflict analysis, and discussing the different roles of a sports and community leader.
Jumping rope
The project had its effect both on a personal and on an organizational level. For the participants who visited Kenya, it was a real eye-opener to see a whole village enjoying the power of sports with only a few frisbees, a football and a jumping rope. At an organizational level, the Dutch educational institutes included different conflict analysis tools in their curriculum and the participating Dutch municipalities started to implement different games and tools in their communities in the Netherlands.
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success stories
scientific research
The Netherlands
ISA, together with its partners, invited the Utrecht University to answer the following two questions: What is the potential of sports as a tool for development? And how to benefit from that potential in the best possible way?
Extensive knowledge
For this assignment, Utrecht University drew both on research and the experience it has built up over the last 15 years when it comes to Sport for Development. In the past, it had already studied, for instance, how sports can attract target groups which are usually hard to reach. And how it can be regarded as a site/place for socialization experiences, stimulating social processes of participation, which can be the key to reach certain international development goals.
Thorough review
For the ‘Sport for Development 2012-2015’ assignment, Utrecht University did a thorough policy and academic literature review, including the analysis of more than 200 articles, books and (international) policy documents over the 1998-2013 period. This resulted in a well-received publication: Sport for Development: the potential value and next steps. Several national and international academic courses and universities of applied sciences have expressed their interest in adding the publication to their curriculum.
Intermediate outcomes
An essential element of the publication is the ‘Sport for Development model’. This model clearly shows how sports can contribute to development at the level of intermediate outcomes, such as the development of life skills, the increase in social interaction and mobilization, the establishment of relationships, the development of role models, the growth of self-confidence and the development of social awareness and the community.
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success stories
peace and sports programme
Kenya, Uganda and South-Sudan
For a long time, increasingly violent conflicts between pastoral communities have dominated life in the borderlands of Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan. The cross-border Peace and Sports programme resolves and prevents these sometimes lethal conflicts. It uses sports to involve pastoral youth in peace building.
Raiding cattle is firmly embedded in the cultures of the pastoral communities. In the last few decades, this ‘tradition’ has become more and more brutal, causing a tremendous loss of livelihoods and lives. The raiders are often young warriors, eager to prove their manliness and relatively sensitive to peer pressure. Therefore, the Peace and Sports programme focuses on them. The programme was designed to peacefully bring together young warriors from different communities. Regular inter-community and cross-border sports tournaments have turned out to be the ideal way to do just that. The objective is to create a safe environment for the boys, connecting sports activities with discussions in which the players analyse both the situation their communities live in and the causes of their conflict. So-called peace & sports facilitators, trained by ISA, play an important role in this process. Armed with knowledge of both sports and conflict resolution, they encourage a safe, rule-bound type of competition and a peaceful dialogue between the warriors, thereby diminishing these young men's urge to interact aggressively and violently. During the programme activities, the young warriors are made aware that sports is a good alternative for raiding cattle, as a pleasant way to relax, compete and improve their physical and mental skills. Playing football also makes warriors from different tribes feel comfortable with one another and so they start sharing experiences. The Peace and Sports programme does not only train them in sports, but also lets them analyse and articulate their conflict situation.
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success stories
south-south exchange
Burkina Faso and Mali, West Africa
In Mali, ISA supported the start of the first national Sport for Development network, consisting of four organizations. Besides sharing experiences, the network focuses on organizing training courses for sports leaders. Expertise from neighbouring Burkina Faso was used to facilitate these training courses on sport for development.
Action plan
Mali is a country where Sport for Development is not yet firmly embedded in the different organizational structures. Only a few – relatively small – organizations were already active in the field of Sport for Development. All organizations involved acknowledged that a lot of progress could be made by training their community and sports leaders in core sport for development practices. Therefore, 30 community and sports leaders participated in a capacity building process in which they got six months to learn the basics of Sport for Development, worked together to formulate a (long-term) action plan and started to organize Sport for Development activities in their communities on a structural basis.
Swimming lessons
Experts from neighbouring country Burkina Faso facilitated this process. ISA has been active in Burkina Faso since the late nineties. Throughout the years, the country has developed valuable knowledge and expertise in the field of sport for development. The South-South exchange had very positive outcomes in Mali. A community leader in Bamako started to organize swimming lessons for children living close to the river Niger. A group of community leaders in Kati organized karate sessions for children, so that they can work on their self-confidence. And in Sikasso, a sports leader combined football trainings with instructions about sanitation. All these activities focussed on acquiring life skills through sports.
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success stories
national expert meeting
The Netherlands
In 2014, ISA organized the National Expert Meeting Sport for Development, together with its partners and with support of NCDO and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During this day experts from all disciplines related to sports and development gathered in Utrecht to discuss the future of Sport for Development.
Meaningful communication and networking
The expert meeting consisted of lectures, inspirational talks and workshops. Some of the topics discussed were gender equality (How does sports contribute to that?), communication (How can you communicate your activities in a meaningful manner?) and ‘the moment of truth’ (What is most important on the pitch? What happens when a trainer meets a pupil?). Among the contributors and participants were Sport for Development organizations, educational institutes, media and ministries. The meeting concluded with a networking event where participants could meet each other and talk in an informal setting.
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success stories
health and sports
Indonesia is confronted with multiple regional epidemics of HIV. Reaching the affected populations can be difficult given Indonesia’s conservative social and religious environment. Rumah Cemara, an NGO supported by ISA, is using the universal language of football to diminish stigmatization of people infected with HIV and AIDS in Indonesian society.
HIV services
Rumah Cemara was founded in 2003 by 5 friends who overcame drug addiction and are HIV positive. Their objective was to support each other and others like them. Their organization operates mainly in the West Java Province, which has one the highest levels of injecting drug use in Indonesia. It provides a range of HIV services through its three main programmes: 1) promotion of harm reduction for injecting drug users; 2) a rehabilitation centre; 3) peer support groups of people living with HIV who have a history of drug use through the Bandung Plus Support programme.
Social group
To improve the quality of life for people with HIV and AIDS, Rumah Cemara offers sports programmes, notably football, running and boxing. This has proved to be a fundamental need on the road to healthy living, also for people living with HIV or AIDS. Because of the stigma of HIV infection, many people with the disease are living in isolation, instead of in traditional family settings. Playing sports together helps to form a bond between the team-mates and to become part of a bigger social group. Being successful on the playing field also celebrates people with HIV and AIDS, and focuses the attention on their positive contributions and achievements, rather than on their illness. ISA invests in the organizational capacity of Rumah Cemara to lead the sporting activities through training courses and workshops.
Lifelong friendships
Rumah Cemara overcomes local stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS by hosting weekly football matches across the West Java Province that engage both HIV positive and HIV negative players. The HIV negative players and the public are often surprised at the abilities of the HIV positive players; they are not weak, dying or fragile. The game in itself stirs conversation and debate, but also forms bonds and friendships for life.
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success stories
international expert meeting
9 countries
Late November 2013, the Programme ‘Sport for Development 2012-2015’ organized its first international expert meeting in Kenya. Over 30 Sport for Development professionals from the eight countries that participate in the programme came together in Nairobi to share their knowledge of life skills, economic empowerment, organizational assessment, lobby and advocacy and multi-stakeholder processes. The meeting concluded with the presentation of the Nairobi Declaration.
Common challenges
Implementing organizations deal with the same sort of daily challenges in their work, whether they are from the Palestinian Territories or Mozambique. These daily challenges include questions like: How can we contribute to lowering youth unemployment? How do we measure the impact of the work we do? How do we involve the government in our projects? During the meeting, representatives of different partner organizations met for the first time and shared their knowledge and experiences. During the meeting, the participants took part in different workshops, but also visited projects in Nairobi. At the end of the meeting, the participants expressed their common ideas, achievements thus far and promises for future cooperation, through the draft of the Nairobi Declaration.
Vulnerable groups
‘Sport for Development 2012-2015’ is a programme set up by ISA, the Dutch Royal Football Association (KNVB)WorldCoaches and Right to Play the Netherlands. It is implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. The programme strengthens the power of sports in Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Egypt, Surinam, South Africa, Indonesia and the Palestinian Territories. It is aimed at children and youth, especially those underprivileged or coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. The programme aims to increase the participation of vulnerable groups in sports activities, to strengthen local organizations and to support the local sport for development networks.
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success stories
minor sport development
The Netherlands
ISA has contributed to the development of the minor Sport Development at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and is now involved in its implementation through lectures and workshops. The new minor focuses on how to address social challenges through sports in national and international contexts.
Experiential learning
The core theme of the minor is to empower people and to build up communities through sustainable sports programmes. Subjects taught in the minor include sustainable (sports) structures, capacity building, community development, social entrepreneurship and intercultural communication. The minor is built upon the principles of experiential learning. Students are challenged not only to deal with the topic of sport development in theory, but also to apply part of the acquired knowledge to a practical case in an international setting.
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success stories
integration through sports
Egypt is in transition. Since the revolution of 2011, the country is undergoing a process of social, political and economic transformation. A lot of young people are suffering in this situation. They are confronted with unemployment, violence (especially against girls) and intolerance against minorities. Sport plays an important role in tackling these social challenges.
Capacity building
Egypt remains a transit and destination country for refugees and asylum seekers. Currently, it has 229,700 refugees and asylum seekers, in particular Eritrean, Ethiopian, Iraqi, Somali, Sudanese and Syrian refugees, as well as Palestinians fleeing from the Syrian Arab Republic. One of the organizations in the Egyptian Sport for Development Network, the Psycho-social Services and Training Institute (PSTIC), works with these refugees and asylum seekers. Some of their sports leaders participated in a capacity building round-table meeting and training course set up by the ISA and its partner organization ASPIRE. There, they learned about using sports as a tool for development.
Playful interaction
With the knowledge acquired in the training course, PSTIC now works with refugee youth (many from Somalia) and uses sports as a means for refugee children to have fun, playfully meet children from other backgrounds, learn to interact with their Egyptian peers in particular and join community activities of the country's youth centres. The programme also pays attention to the parents meeting each other. PSTIC and ISA believe that a society grows stronger when people from different cultural backgrounds learn how to interact peacefully and respectfully – both on and off the sports field.
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success stories
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